Did you know cremation is now more popular than traditional burials in the United States? It’s true! Getting cremated became the top choice in 2015 and has continued growing in popularity ever since.
In fact, according to the National Funeral Directors’ Association (NFDA), more than 50% of Americans who pass away this year will be cremated. They also predict that this number will increase to 80% over the next 20 years.
Based on this, you may find yourself wondering what happens during cremation. Well, wonder no more! Here’s everything you need to know about the cremation process.
6 Simple Steps in the Cremation Process
Once you learn how cremation works, you might be surprised. Many people worry that it’s gory or scary, but this isn’t the case at all! Each cremation follows a simple, six-step process.
1. Identify the Deceased
After someone passes away, the very first step is to identify the body. The procedure for doing this varies from state to state and each facility may also have its own requirements. Typically, however, this involves a family member confirming the deceased’s identity.
Once the identification is complete, a representative will put a metal tag on the body. This remains there throughout the cremation process and stays with the remains afterward to confirm final verification.
2. Authorize the Procedure
A facility cannot do a cremation unless it has explicit permission from someone who is authorized to make this decision. This also varies from state to state.
In Texas, the decision-makers regarding the deceased are determined in this order:
- An agent the deceased named in a written document before their death
- Surviving spouse
- Adult child
- Adult sibling
- Administrator or executor of the estate
- Adult next of kin
In addition to choosing whether to bury or cremate the body, the decision-maker may also decide on the type of cremation, for example, a water cremation or a green cremation. They’ll also need to indicate what type of container the cremated remains should be placed in and who is responsible for picking up the remains.
Local cremation prices vary, so family members looking for low-cost cremation will want to discuss their options before making decisions. There’s no shame in simply asking “How much is cremation?” and choosing an option that fits with your budget.
3. Prepare the Body
Each facility will prepare the deceased’s body in its own way. Typically, though, this involves cleaning and dressing the body. In most cases, the body isn’t embalmed unless the family requests a public viewing or wants this done for other reasons.
The facility will remove jewelry and other items and give them to the deceased’s beneficiaries, unless there’s been a request to keep it with the body. They’ll also remove battery-operated or mechanical prosthetics and medical devices to ensure there’s no reaction inside the cremation chamber.
Once the body is prepared, the facility will place it in a combustible vessel that’s strong enough to hold its weight. This can vary from a casket that’s been specially designed for cremation to a sturdy cardboard box. It doesn’t really matter what it’s made of, as long as it’s combustible.
4. Place the Body in the Cremation Chamber
Next, a facility employee will place the body in a specially designed furnace, called a cremation chamber or retort. It’s heated to temperatures as high as 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes the body to turn to ash. The furnace is usually fueled by propane, oil, or natural gas.
It’s preheated and then the body is quickly put through a mechanized door that helps to prevent heat loss. Modern furnaces are automated and computerized, making the process very consistent and error-proof. There’s also typically no smell as the gasses that are released during the cremation process are discharged using an exhaust system.
The body is always treated with respect throughout the process. In most cases, each body is also cremated individually.
Typically, it takes a couple of hours for full cremation. This can vary depending on a number of factors, including the body weight, temperature, equipment used, and type of container used for the body. After the cremation procedure, the ashes must cool before they’re safe to handle.
5. Finalize the Remains
Once the remains cool, a facility representative will inspect them and remove any metal that remains. This often happens if the person had joints, screws, or pins surgically placed during their lifetime.
They’ll remove the metal by hand or using a strong magnet and typically send it out for recycling. The remains are then ground down using a special processor. Once that’s done, the remains are ready for delivery to the deceased’s loved ones.
6. Transfer the Ashes
Finally, the employee will place the remains in a sealed plastic bag, and transfer it to an urn or a temporary container. They are then returned to the deceased’s next of kin.
The survivors can then decide what to do with cremated the remains. Some choose to have the ashes placed into a special piece of jewelry, place them in a memorial sculpture, or spread them in a place that was special to the deceased. Before making a decision, it’s important to check local, state, and federal regulations to confirm your idea doesn’t break any laws.
Learn More About Cremation Today
Now that you understand the cremation process, you may feel more comfortable discussing final arrangements for you or a loved one.
At Green Cremation Texas, we’re here to answer all your questions and put your mind at ease. Whether you’re interested in a green cremation or a water cremation – or you’re just looking to explore your options – our texas cremation company can help! Contact us today to learn more.